Packers Top Rookie: 1964

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Vince Lombardi had accumulated nine picks in the first five rounds of the 1964 draft, but lost four of those top draftees to the AFL. Vince selected three centers and 12 offensive lineman out of his overall 23 picks. He then traded both his veteran centers, Jim Ringo and Ken Iman, in the offseason. The Patriots outbid Vince for second round center Jon Morris, and 20th rounder from Georgia Tech Bill Curry was drafted as a future pick, so the plan was to move tackle Bob Skoronski to the pivot with Wisconsin’s Ken Bowman, taken in round eight, as backup.

Nine rookies made the roster in 1964. Nebraska defensive lineman Lloyd Voss was the Packers’ top pick, but would never live up to billing. The second and third rounds saw Morris, Ode Burrell and Joe O’Donnell all sign with the AFL, but linebacker Tommy Joe Crutcher did arrive from TCU in the third round. Speedy Wichita wideout Bob Long came in round four and enormous Alabama Tackle Steve Wright in the fifth. Later round picks included, Bowman and St. John’s tackle John McDowell. Two picks from 1963 joined the team in 1964 as well – second rounder Tom Brown and 15th round Virginia linebacker Gene Breen. The final rookie to step up was defensive back Doug Hart, who spent 1963 on the Packers’ taxi squad.

This was a depth draft. Voss, McDowell and Breen were all gone from the team within two years, but Crutcher, Long, Wright and Hart proved to valuable reserves and sometime starters for several seasons. Tom Brown became the starting strong safety a year later, and Ken Bowman became the team’s primary starting center for the next decade starting midseason of his rookie year. Ken Bowman was the Packers’ top rookie in 1964.

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